Ivy holdout: Same as it ever was

 ASKING: $399,000

SIZE: 2808 fin. sq. ft.

YEAR BUILT: 1897

ADDRESS: 2850 Morgantown Road

NEIGHBORHOOD: Ivy

CURB APPEAL: 8 out of a possible 10

LISTED BY: Sonja Casero of Century 21 Albemarle Properties 295-8540

The neighborhoods of Ivy have recently raised some hackles as well as some eyebrows. Land values have skyrocketed, and available parcels are being minced to accommodate future Ivyites. As you drive through on narrow 250 West, it still superficially looks like a quaint one-horse town. But new driveways appear overnight, and the once-bucolic byway now suffers from rush hour congestion.

Still, desirability and convenience seem to outweigh any negative concerns, and the charm of "old" Ivy remains. Sitting atop a knoll directly behind the post office and garden center is this house, an homage to a bygone era. Known locally as The Abell-Wood House (so named for the previous two owners), this dwelling was built in 1897 by local craftsmen as the residence for the stationmaster, who oversaw the Ivy Depot across Morgantown Road. A sharp dogleg of a driveway through a well-established stand of bamboo gives an extra measure of privacy considering that anywhere from the property a properly lobbed pebble could hit a westbound vehicle.

On first viewing this grand, yet humble, home has none of the audacious smack-in-the-face fluff that current architectural trends mandate. The most outstanding feature and the one that appears least obvious is the preservation of the original design. From the stained glass doors to the wavy glass in the windows, the house pretty much stands the same as when it was built. Where bookshelves have been added or floors refinished, keeping the original plans intact has been the owner's foremost concern.

Entering, one can almost feel the passage of time. A formal living room greets one with a beautiful walkout bay window. Beyond that is a formal dining room with a glittering swaying chandelier. Dark-stained heart pine floors give the house a somewhat somber feel, but huge windows catch light from every angle. Front and back staircases cleave downstairs into two areas of living where the country kitchen has enough extra room for a family reunion of Catholic proportions. A full bathroom off the kitchen, a guest bedroom, and an enclosed, small back porch rounded out the rooms on the first level.

As we climbed the back steps, constraints on space became apparent, as no step is wide enough to accommodate either a size 10 shoe or the stairwell high enough to fit a six-foot frame. As other quaint characteristic of older homes, the odd sizes and shapes add to the charm. Upstairs had several bedrooms, a full bath, and an office/den space. The rooms are all stately in appointments and proportions, and the master bedroom duplicates the walk-out bay windows below.

Situated on a little over one acre at the furthest point from 250 West, one would think the constant traffic din would annoy porch-sitters, but as we stood outside and chatted about the ravages of development, we barely noticed. A new fence nicely delineates the yard where three wildly friendly dogs waited to greet with dirty paws. At the beginning of summer, before the drought, a new well was dug, and they hit pay-dirt with a steady 10 gallons per minute.

Unique to this home, though, as we were being led down the garden path was a stone stairway carved into the hillside that leads down to Morgantown Road. Original to the house and probably used as an entranceway as well as path to the Depot, it now leads directly to Duner's, a Sunday brunch tradition for the current owners.

So instead of buying up land with a tacky new building, home shoppers might consider recycling and adopt a quality older treasure.